I’ve been a yoga ‘practicer’ more than practitioner, for many years now, on and off. Last September I turned it into a regular practice and have been attending lessons a minimum of twice per week.
The hoped-for abs aren’t appearing yet but I’ve definitely got slimmer and more muscular plus I do have more energy overall. I have grown arm muscles too – always helpful when we’re fighting the dreaded arm jiggle later in life!
Monday Yoga, Friday Yoga and some in between
On Friday though I just couldn’t make it to yoga for 8am after school drop-off. Most of Wichita had been up for half the night wondering how big the hailstones were that were hitting houses and cars (tennis ball size according to reports).
Later in the day I felt more awake and decided to leaf through my home yoga collection, finding Paul Grilley’s yin yoga DVD Paul Grilley Yin Yoga the foundations of a quiet practice. There were two main classes both lasting about 70 minutes so I thought it would be a bonus if I got through half of one of them under the circumstances.
What is Yin Yoga?
Yin yoga is the study of yin energy in relatively static body positions, yin energy qualities being more still and strong than the faster moving yang energy. So this kind of yoga will have you working in one pose for 2-4 minutes.
It can be very intense but also very meditative and relaxing depending upon your perspective. And you can wiggle about in a number of ways to release energy, soreness or stiffness.
From the perspective of Chinese Medicine, Yin Energy is
- female, passive, negative principle in nature
- the moon
- shaded orientation
- shady side of a hill
- south of a river
Using the same perspective Yang Energy (pronounced ‘Yong’) is
- positive, active, male principle in nature
- south or sunny side of a hill
- north of a river.
That’s the philosophical, energetic description of Yin energy. When doing Yin Yoga in practical terms, what you are doing is focusing on your bones and stretching connective tissue using ancient wisdom from the Chinese view of acupuncture, Taoism and Hindu yoga practices.
Yin Yoga in practice
He had 4 students in the class, all with different body types and movement abilities so that he can easily demonstrate adaptions for each pose. All of the students had good experience, some were amazing in their abilities…but it didn’t feel overwhelming or off-putting because Paul took great trouble to explain how different all of our bodies are in bone length, tendon flexibility and so on.
Yin Yoga for tight muscles and tendons, connective tissue in general
My main issue is tight hips and low back yet I’m very flexible in other directions (being able to reach easily past my feet for example) so any yoga session which works on hips is always of deep Interest to me.
I began to notice the quality of resistance in some muscles yet at some point during a pose they would start to let go.
It’s a wonderful feeling to start getting deep releases in muscles that have not found a way to relax for a while. About 20 minutes in I started to feel blissful. Before I knew it I had completed the 70 minute class. I love how yoga makes time stop!
I had also learned through Paul’s talk that my right hip and low back were also connected to the gallbladder meridian. Last year I had to get help for gallbladder issues so in some ways this was no great surprise to me, at least, it made a lot of sense.
If you haven’t tried yin yoga as part of your practice yet I believe there is a lot to learn. Paul’s DVD gives us a lot of help and guidance and as he says helps us focus on the energy of the bones. I shall be using the DVD again to work through the spine class.
How you may feel differently after a Yin Yoga class
After other types of yoga class, I feel energized and relaxed. I noticed afterwards that I felt some internal shaking and quivering, which Paul said on the DVD relates to Yang energy catching up and being released or balanced in tandem with the Yin Yoga work.
I also got a good result later during the evening when I found myself cooking dinner and cleaning the kitchen simultaneously! (Mostly unheard of in my house). I always know I’ve done good energy work when I either have a great sleep or a huge outburst of energy.
Do you practice Yin Yoga? Let me know your results!